Skip to main content

tv   Washington  CSPAN  September 2, 2017 12:16am-1:02am EDT

12:16 am
life" an in-depth look of the first president of the united states. also a strong fathers, strong daughters by a pediatrician. she highlights the importance of the father daughter relationship. >> book tv wants to know what you're reading. send us your list via twitter book tv, or instagram at book -underscore tv. or posted to the facebook page, tv. put tv on c-span2. television for serious readers. >> speaker ryan mentioned the book on what george washington that when the pulitzer prize in 2011. we'll show you that author presentation now. >> washington was dignified, stoic, heroic, fiercely devoted to duty.
12:17 am
but, he was also slaveowner, and unyielding taskmaster, somewhat vain and a failure of business. unlike his peers, jefferson, madison, hamilton, and adams who are all college graduates, washington handling the equivalent of a seventh gradeuie education. brown was born in brooklyn and he is an honors graduate of both yelling cambridge. he's considered to be one of the most distinguished commentatorse on politics, business, and finance in america today. the st. louis post-dispatch has hailed him as a preeminent partner from the generation in the new york times calls him and elegant architect of -- in history. 2000 for his biography won the inaugural george washington book price for early american history.
12:18 am
mr. chair now brings political perspective to the turnouttoday. today. listen to his words, president washington, like president obama enters the office opening for reasonable and sensible discourse.e. hoping to ensure now partisan politics. the two-party system emerges rapidly from his own cabinet. hamilton and jefferson heading up different wings.headin for two years there seems to be a political honeymoon for washington to do a stature. once they start in the opposition, the attacks are ferocious and relentless.tionar washington is accused of being the british double agent during the revolutionary war. sound familiar? ladies and gentlemen, let's hear more about george washington from his biographer. please join me in welcoming
12:19 am
mr. ron chernow.r. [applause] >> thank you for that wonderful introduction. it's always so thrilled to bend here at the miami book fair. february 17, 2 months before george washington was sworn and he received a fascinating letter from europe reporting for the first time in the sudden madness of king george the third. he said that in the king's delirious state he conceived himself to be in no less a personage than george washington of the continental army. in the morris added, you've apparently done something or another that sticks must in the stomach. indeed, washington had.
12:20 am
who is this commoner that was such a legend in his own time and ever sense that he managed to invade the feverishctually dreamworld of the drainage royal george. i was interested in this when i was writing my biography. i was writing a series of letters that hamilton wrote that led to hamilton quitting. in these letters, hamilton described working for washingto. and said washington was moody, irritable and temperamental.on s even something -- informed hiso father and the of more than a touch of youthful bravado. he said, the great anna and i came to an open rupture. he shall repent his ill humor. i remember sitting there stunned. ill humor?er did hamilton mean to imply that the saintly father of our
12:21 am
country was a sulky, volatile boss? this was far from the truthle about george washington.s i hope in this book is about lavishing praise to washington's courage and fortitude patriotism and integrity. in fact, my book was an effort to re-create the charisma and magnetism and so excited washington's contemporaries that have gotten it lost in the translation to prosperity. hempstead hamilton painted weree portraits of people. his comments opened a window into george washington's emotion, the emotion swirling around inside him. emotions that he kept in checkth with fermentable
12:22 am
i learned george washington was not this worthy figure plan butt a bit boring taken up residence in the imagination. revolutionaries are not made of such tame stuff.ff. i wondered even if there were so many books about washington whether washington, seemingly the most familiar figure in history was perhaps at bottom the least familiar figure. i thought perhaps there are other significant dimensions of his personality that enable me as a biographer to bring them to a vivid and three-dimensional life that would make him immediate incomprehensible to people. i'm here to report after six years of intensive work that i found a george washington who is passionate, complex, sensitive,
12:23 am
man of many moods, of strong and fiery opinions, a fierceonist wh perfectionist who put the force of his personality under that stork façade that we know so well. in a very laudable desire we sanded down the rough edges of his personality and turned him into an impossibly stiff and lifeless figure where he's standing there with his arm rigidly thrust out. it stands to reason that wooden figure could never have defeated the british empire. the mightiest machine of the 18th century could not have presided over the constitutionae convention. cannot have forged the office of the all the man was able to do those things must've been a force of
12:24 am
nature, although he kept that force carefully under wraps. in order to fashion a fresh portion of washington you have to take up a sharp machete in the hacking his way through a dense jungle of myths and misconceptions about georgeewayh washington. and mis i've discovered that well-educated americans their minds are so cluttered with all of these tales. so lme retire some of the most egregious errors. you have already heard the cherry tree story was prevention. was invented charlotte after washington's death. when washington died there's a tremendous hunger for personal stories that would humanize him. her friend rushed into that vacuum armed with these fictitious tales. the story has been unfortunate
12:25 am
for many reasons.e and mo it has been used to terrorize america's schoolchildren for 200 years now. [laughter] 's also created a very misleading image of george washington as a cold character when he was anything but. another common myth is the wooden tooth. 's estrangement because digestive enzymes would rot would in the mouth. he started losing his teeth in his 20s. by the time he became president he had one tooth left in his mouth. a very brave and lonely left by custard. he had a full set of upper and yower dentures may. there's a little round hole where the bicuspid was. they're painful to examine.
12:26 am
i can only imagine how painful they were to wear. they would have been scraping against his gums. they were made from elephant or walrus ivory and inserted with human tooth. in 1784 he bought nine teeth from slaves, possibly his own that were inserted into those ivy frames. the 18th century it wasyo routine for people to advertisen to advertise their buying teeth. they said white teeth for white people. so washington who is doingn waso something if indeed he had nine teeth from his own slaves. what happened over time as the every age it look like wood.ig the most significant thing i discovered about the dentures, they were connected in the back
12:27 am
by curved metal springs. the only way washington could've held them in a small was byuld d keeping is mouth firmly compressed. so whenever he opened his mouth it relax the pressure on the springs and there's a possibility the teeth would comp flying out of his mouth, whether it's incidental or not he gave a large number speeches, only a few paragraphs in length. another common myth i found universal is that george[l washington more weight. univers how did he get that strange and distinctive hairdo? he fluffed out the hair and the twin wings on other side.sprink he then sprinkled powder, grayish powder on his hair, very common at the if you look closely if he is wearing a black velvet suit you see a fine grayish dust on his
12:28 am
shoulders, assuring the powder had sprinkled down onto shoulders. most significantly he took the remaining hairs over a snack and tied in a black satin bow. the style that was called aovers ponytail was called acute. even though his hairstyle looks very quaint and genteel, it wasn considered the manly look. anyone seen washington walked down the street would've said there was a general.s the finally, everyone repeat said he was 6-foot three and a half.e ih i discovered as i looked into this, it rested on a single piece of evidence which was after he died and was measured for his casket. he measured 6-foot three and half. there was seen to settle the controversy, right.down in
12:29 am
wrong. to an experiment. by down in bed on your back and relax. what you see is here fee will fall for, your toes will point out word. if rigor mortis would decided it would add about three and half inches to your height. i collected about 40 quotations from contemporary letters and diaries of people who commented on washington's height, and 35 of them guess correctly that he was 6 feet tall. then came the clincher.n. washington then ordered his clothing from london. every six months he sat down and gave his london taylor a precis description of his physique described himself as a man who was exactly 6 feet tall. the one person you can't lie to about your height unless you
12:30 am
want to look like a laughingstock's or taylor. we can consider the case close. he was 6 feet tall which was relatively tall for that time. the associated washington with the revolutionary war but he spent five and half years fighting in the french indian ai war. it was so precocious he was kind of a prodigy. by the age of 23 he was a colonel, put in charge of all the military forces in virginia, at a time when virginia was most populous and powerful state in the union. his perseverance, bravery was already the stuff of legends. but the young washington is not the wise paragon of later years. his craft, dogged and pushy in his pursuit of money, status, power. he first rebels against the
12:31 am
british for personal reasons. the british tonight him the road commission in the army he covets.. they sell him shoddy overpriced goods for london. f they been a settlements west of the mounds at a time when washington is amassing real estate there. they're bad for business, thereby for your career. so those early sections you feel like you're in the company of historic greatness. even though their admirable and extraordinary traits that foreshadow wondrous things to come. the bane of his early years was not royal george, but someone infinitely more formidable. his mother. mary washington. a she is a very self-centered. mo
12:32 am
we have no comments about herr praising the commander-in-chief, if even if she was still a live when he became president. no evidence that she attended the wedding of george and martha washington. no evidence that she visited them in mount vernon although she lived in fredericksburg which was not far away. historic rumor has take to is the -- during the war. george's father died when he was 11. george was the else the sun. very felt like george should be take care of her rather than pursuing his career. when he's in his 20s on the western frontier he receives a letter from his mother say she urgently needs a new duchess serving ten butter as if he supposed to drop all of his duties and fetches poor mother some butter.
12:33 am
late in the revolutionary war, washington receives a letter from the speaker of the assembly who says something has been going on in the virginia state capital but nobody has a cruise to tell you about. your mother has been here for a couple months. she has applied for a specialpi petition for emergency relief claiming poverty and internet abandonment from you know who, the commander-in-chief. washington son have bought his mother's house in fredericksburg and given her a lot of money and that was his reward. i speculate in the book the first great general that he ever had to do battle with was in fact his mother. but this difficult mother to deal with and a father who died when george was 11, it's no wonder he doesn't start out as a saint. in the mid- 1760s with the out a
12:34 am
stamp act and the town's duties in the boston tea party and the intolerable acts, washington realizes on his personal grievances reflect a larger political problem on the deck has been stacked against thests. colonists. then suddenly and gloriously all of his feelings about the british are elevated into universal principles of freedom, liberty, and justice. he begins to find his political voice. the voice is strong and militant.was if ever there was a man who is noble by circumstance.y a just if ever there is a man fired up by a just and righteous cause, that man was george washington. he transcends his origin in a way that has few if any perils in american history.
12:35 am
if we know and events in the revolutionary war we know him crossing the delaware valley forge. both are a little misleading. washington deserves full credit in his crossing the delaware argue that washington was at best a midland general, he lost more battles than anyone. but i argue that you can't judge him by the usual scorecard because it's a rare case in history what he's doing between battles is arguably more important than what he does on the battlefield. is single-handedly holding this army together for eight and a half years in the face of constant shortages of men, money, clothing, blanket shoes, gunpowder, on and on. only george washington has thece strength, character, and purpose to maintain the cost.ther
12:36 am
we know about the bleak winter at valley forge, there are many other winters that were just as bleak as valley forge. nobody but washington would've had the courage and stamina to hold this army together. and the met holding the american nation together. please read the book and write me a letter and tell me who could've stepped into washington shoes in this battle. there are other generals who were his equal, but they are jockeying for power, there jocktracked, george washington had a simplicity. if you give him a goal to pursue it would harness the energy and fortitude in his nature to achieve it.
12:37 am
yet a focus, discipline, and drive that was truly unique. whatever his shortcomings as a politician, he was a genius as this consider this record. he was unanimously elected commander-in-chief by the continental congress. he was unanimously elected president of the constitutional convention. he was twice unanimously elected president of the united states by the electoral college. honestly that will never happen, again. he does all of these things without the benefit of a single focus group or political action committee. he's responding to his own instincts. because he never seem to be grasping for power people were more eager to give it to him. they wanted him out of retirement, the more reluctant he was the more people wanted
12:38 am and t his presence in philadelphia was thtal. the constitutional convention was held behind closed doors. it's washington's position that reassures the skittish publicc outside that no sinister -- is asing hashed inside. this assumption that washington will be the first president that emboldens the delegates to create a powerful office of the presidency at a time after the war. there is an understandable fear of exaggerated power. article one of the constitution, by design is about congress people. people felt as the people's branch of government, that should be preeminent. article two is by design to be
12:39 am
short, vague and general. washington has spent more than eight years dealing with an internally squabbling congress relates no legislature could provide coherent and consistentr leadership in its washington who realizes it will be the executive branch that will spearhead domestic and foreign policy. we're still living with washington's legacy today. matt we assume as a matter of course that the president will defineat the political agenda. there's also no mention in the constitution of the cabinet.t. washington creates the first cabinet. there were only three members, ms. "alexander hamilton" and thomas jefferson, secretary ofa. state. i think per pound the best cabinet will ever have by far,
12:40 am
he assembles the american all-star team.eam. like all good executives washington was not afraid to hire people who were smarterti than he was. he was very smart indeed and he felt fully confident to be ablee to control these headstrong prima i know were all gazing back and i think it's right to do so in terms of the brilliance and the integrity of these people, but it was a nasty political time. i did a piece of the wall street journal on the founders, for instance john adams and benjamin franklin, his entire life has been a continued insult to decency and good manners. franklin set of atoms, he'ss often an honest man but sometimes in some things, out oa his senses.
12:41 am
this is good stuff compared to adams they called him the best or brat of a sketch peddler. they said hamilton had a superabundance of secretions which he cannot plan cause enough to draw. thesn't get stronger than that. hamilton, hamilton gave as good as he got and he rejoined, shoots similar to say that john adams is as wicked as he is mad. the only one who rises above this name-calling is george washington. the beginning of his term his a political honeymoon but then the two-party system brings up in the opposition party attacks some relentlessly for plotting to restore monarchy to being accused of being a british double agent of the
12:42 am
revolutionary war.r. he thinks some of the chargesths today made in the press are preposterous, i was struck during the book. one was how ambivalent washington felt about his ownu w fame. wherever he went he was faded. he was not a gladhanding backslapping personality. it is not a good speaker, but wherever he went he had to give a few well-chosen words. when he was president he made a tour of the states, they would send out a delegation of dignitaries and he would drive an hour to earlier to bypassarra them. he would write in his diary, the dignitaries were supposed to come and escort me out of town.s i woke up at 5:00 a.m. let before they arrive. also find the aphrodisiac a in
12:43 am
wawerful force, washington constantly had beautiful women around him. when he was doing this trip of the 13 states he wrote every night in his diary he would record the number of women. he would say arrived in new haven, there were 62 handsome and well-dressed ladies. then he would write the next night i was in hartford, there's dinner in my honor, there 73 fashionable and elegant ladies. she was going with a tiny entourage. i guarantee one doing the counting of the ladies was the father of our country. the travesty of our home he becomes a prisoner of his celebrity. he's warned that he should get a special expense account to entertain people. hundreds, finally thousands to send in mount vernon, washington
12:44 am
is an impeccably polite man. he feeds them, houses them. the saddest line in his correspondence he rates, quote dined with only mrs. washington, which i believe is the first instance since my return from the war. he been back from the war for year and half. first time he dined alone with martha. he had been away for a half years and only went back to mount vernon once for three days. george washington was not this cold character of the cherry trees story. nathaniel hawthorne once mocked him by saying he was surely born with his closing and with his hair powdered and made a stately bow on his first appearance in the world. but there is nothing puritanical saout washington.
12:45 am
let me give you a story, washington had the friend name colonel joseph ford who remarried at the age of 47. washington consider 47 a comically advanced age to marriage. he wrote the letter. quote, glad to hear my old acquaintance colonel ward is yet under the influence of vigorous passions. he went on to support thathe i could general had reviewed his strength, his arms and ammunition before he got involved in action. and it goes on. let me advise him to make the first onset upon his fairly with the vigor, that the impression may be to keep if it cannot be lasting and frequently renewed. [laughter] is not alignment suggesting for inclusion in the textbooks gives us a different take on washington.
12:46 am
the marriage to martha was not[l the illustrious marriage but it was a happy one. she gave him financial security. she gave him emotional support, washington was rather repressed and needed an emotional confident. she was immensely skillful and washington was a cordial host, so she gave him the warm stable home life that i think he needed to accomplish these monumental tasks. i tried to give a portrait of the marriage because the two of them made indescribable sacrifices for the country.lwaye martha visited george during the war but it turns out she spent a full half of the war with him, they would lengthen into the spring and typically last five or six months. or
12:47 am
to flesh out this private man behind the public façade i devote time in the book to george washington as the slaveholder. in earlier generations they seem to think that it's anfact tha inconsequential fact that he owns 300 human beings. washington was conflicted over the issue. he opposed slavery in theory bup was never able to make an issue of it in public. even in the founding era, slavery was the most divisive issue. washington being the embodiments of it knew it was a subject to brush at his peril.f i wanted to write in which washington slaves are notit faceless names mentioned in passing but to the extent it can that their full-bodied human beings. i talk about his manservant who
12:48 am
is a great hunter, rider and he accompanied washington every day during the revolutionary war and various proud of it like to reminisce about the battles. i talk about a judge who is martha's favorite slave, young seamstress who escaped to freedom in new hampshire and most of all, the flamboyant hercules who is the master chef at the presidential household in philadelphia who also slipped off to freedom in the waning days of washington second term.c slaves constructed every inch of mount vernon, they formed the basis of washington's -- and i thought they deserve to have apl central place in the saga. what i love about george washington, there's plenty defects as a slaveholder and businessman but this man was m
12:49 am
capable of constant growth and constant self-criticism. born in the 1730s into a world where slavery is both commonplace and i question. his last and most visionary acts he freezes slaves. i want to close with a fascinating story, about 300 slaves at mount vernon, 125 render the direct legal control of george washington. the other approximately 105 slaves were brought to the marriage by martha and legally pledged to her children and grandchildren. so washington says the slave should be freed, the hundred 25 he controlled should be freed after martha dies. washington has thought this through. he provided funds to train and
12:50 am
educate slaves who be free. he created a fund to take care of freed slaves who were too old to work. he thought it through in detail, he overlooked one big thing. that was, the moment he died his will was published everybodyhe knew the terms and every slave, weather here slowly was one of the slaves. and what it meant was every time 125 slaves they said the second that lady is dead, a free person. author was so unnerved by the situation and felt like her life was in danger. she consulted george's nephew who is an associate justice of the supreme court and he said, you're right to be afraid, he said just go ahead and free the slaves now which is what she
12:51 am
did. it was a smart thing to do. a y the year after george washington died but a year before washington the slaves were freeu a speech on washington should last as long as thehould la revolutionary war and i thank you for coming i'm happy to answer questions.o answer [applause] >> i think of people in question there's a microphone. please line up. >> did you run across information regarding washington's view of extending the franchise? and in his later years to do run across any feelings on how the
12:52 am
results of the revolution turned out? did he have any misgivings? >> did he try to extend the franchise? that was not notable. we know that the constitutional, thnvention one point that washington proposed because he was a neutral arbitrator, one point he proposed is that there should be one congressman for every -- and he felt the house would be more numerous and more responsive to the people. but washington shared a certain federalist elitism that the people should elect the most intelligent and prosperous members of the community who look out for their interests.ary there are different places where washington said there must have been a special providence, not
12:53 am
only overseeing thet revolutionary war but the constitutional convention and even his presidency that things turned out so well.ent on >> which you comment on george washington's religious feelings and, can you either confirm or dispel the myth of the prayer that supposedly was done during the valley forge winter? a young private race that he came upon washington. >> you've all probably seen the picture of washington praying on his knees. there was another one of the inventions of -- who invented the cherry tree story. it's implausible story, notinved because of washington's religious but his private and
12:54 am
his devotion.he would hugh would not have been praying in that fashion in front of his soldiers. it's been a hot controversy about this, before the war was an anglican which meant after the war he was an episcopalian. there were a number things about washington christian beliefs and practices that are atypical.l. he talked about providence or the supreme author of our being. he only referred to jesus by name two or three times in his kneeer. a church she would pray standing instead of kneeling, refuting the mason story. he never took communion which martha did regularly. significantly, he did not call
12:55 am
for a minister on his deathbed, which martha did. t i've the feeling washington was deeply religious, there is not u battle under revolutionary war that he does not claim the divine providence has been looking out for the country. his papers are saturated with references to a providence closely following american events watching over the denounes of the country. it's hard from a denominational point of view to pin down with precision exactly what his religious views were. >> thank you. >> and "alexander hamilton", you went to an extent with the relationship with mr. hamilton. how did washington take the
12:56 am
marquees in the french outlook and help in the war to the extent there was any? how did he accept foreign support? >> with difficulty, all of the french officers who came over many came over from a self-interested reason. they wanted to battlefield the glory of felt they would go back to france and get a promotion. locke cannot even speak english. washington fell to the bane ofof his life as commander-in-chief that he had to placate the french officers who came over.h the story is interesting. lafayette comes over at the age of 19. he equips the ship with provisions and munitions. he goes to philadelphia art witi a letter from franklin who
12:57 am
writes to congress, please treal the young rather well because he's close to marie antoinetteee and connected at the core. the congress, without -- washington makes lafayette a9 major general, this 19-year-old kid who has just arrived, it was the highest ranked below commander-in-chief. but, they did it as an honorary honorar lafayette then goes and meets george washington. washington writes a priceless letter to congress saying, i don't think the young marquis understands that the title is merely an honor. he's looking for regiment to command.ingly en amazingly, lafayette becomes so resourceful and fearless general, that he becomes one of
12:58 am
the major generals the continental army.know, th one thing i found with the story of lafayette being the surrogate of washington turns out to be true. washington being a formal man do not like to be touched. we have eyewitness accounts that when lafayette with the washington, he would throw his arms around and kiss his face ear to ear. , only a young frenchman could have gotten away with that with washington.washingt >> i was wonder why martha were married george washington. i'm sure she had many's suitors. >> i don't think it was surprising that she wanted to marry washington. he had been in the french and indian war for five years, the
12:59 am
commander of all military forces in virginia when he was 23. he meets her when he was 29, he was a military hero in virginia. he was famous for his bravery. he was starting out seem to be a prosperous and successful young then he became a member of the virginia house of burgesses for 20 years. he was closely connected with the fairfax family. his brother had married and fairfax, his father who is the agent for someone that control 5 million acres in virginia. in the fairfax families the most powerful, richest family virginia and george washington is there young protége. washington was very tall and we tend to think of him as
1:00 am
pictures from stiff and rigid, jefferson said he was the greatest horseman of his day. w he was legendary as a dancer, he is a great hunter. his race social a very genial pa personality. so i find it completely understandable that she would've been attracted to him. and she had two children and seemed eager to have children. >> no cherry tree. >> no. sorry. >> thank you so much for coming. [applause] . . cherry
1:01 am
>> >>


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on